Finally, a topic I feel well-qualified to speak on! As a mother of six, I was always looking for short-cuts…ways to stay organized and make life easier without trying too hard. Here are some secrets that worked for me.
1. Dedicate a lower kitchen drawer to your kids for their cups, plates and even snacks, if they are healthy and you trust them not to get into it 24/7.
This fosters a feeling of independence for them and keeps all “kid stuff” in one place.
2. Have your kids help with simple chores like emptying the dishwasher or making their beds.
When my youngest son was three, he went through a (sadly, very brief) stage where he liked cleaning the toilet with the “pretty” brush and I made the most of it. Did I have to follow behind him and redo it? Of course, but it was still good experience for him to do chores when he was very young and any housework I could get help with was a blessing!
3. Put similar toys in bins and label them appropriately.
If you want your kids to be able to open them, use the ones with the pull off lids. If not, use the ones whose handles snap shut on the sides. If your kids can read you can obviously put the name of the toys on the bins but if they are very young, use pictures. Putting away toys can even feel like a game if your kids are young enough. (See point #2!)
You can make it even more fun by saying, “Let’s see how many toys you can get put away before mommy turns out the light,” or some other little easy game. Maybe set a timer and if they pick up for five minutes they get a snack.
4. Put hooks for hanging clothes, jackets and book bags (for older kids) where your children can reach them.
For that matter, make all storage they need to get to easily accessible for them. I see this a lot. People buy these ready-made mud room systems that have hooks up so high that kids can’t get to them and then the parent is whining because their kids’ stuff is on the floor.
For a long time, I had a laundry basket at the bottom of my coat closet for all my kids’ shoes. Was it beautiful? No. Did it help keep the shoe clutter under control? Definitely.
5. This is probably my favorite clutter tip if you have kids. LESS IS MORE!
Let me repeat that in case you didn’t hear me. LESS IS MORE! Why do I say this? Because time after time I walk into a child’s bedroom or playroom and there are so many toys in there that I’M overwhelmed. Trust me, when the organizer is overwhelmed, it’s bad.
There are so many simple fixes for this as a parent. Rotate the toys and bring out “new” ones every few months. Donate toys that your kids have outgrown or don’t play with or give them to a relative or friend. Throw away toys (or puzzles) with missing pieces or that annoy you! (Anything that makes a noise would go into this category!) Honestly, it’s not being a bad or mean parent to limit your child’s toys.
If you limit them, you keep your kids from being overwhelmed. Too many choices and too little space to play is not doing your child (or you when it comes to cleanup) any favors.